By: Peter LiCalsi, Esri
Esri’s Lauren Lipovic and Bonnie Stayer demonstrated how GIS data is solving one of the biggest challenges politicians face. Political views of constituencies often vary and contradict those of others across a region. During a role-playing session at UC’s Public Policy exhibit, Ms. Lipovic assumed the part of a hypothetical Idaho Senator to demonstrate how a representative can use GIS to better understand these discrepancies.
Legislators can now leverage ArcGIS that governments typically use to enhance initiatives such as national parks services and defense intelligence, to visualize census data and see polling results on geospatial maps. These show the relationship between demographics and how voters communicate their opinions on issues to their representatives. For instance, the data about voter opinions concerning child poverty are overlaid on a basemap along with the locations showing where child poverty actually occurs.
Esri has collaborated with Quorum, a startup that generates useful insights about constituent demographics, to help lawmakers find ideal political partners for passing legislation. Politicians use their GIS data and, with Quorum, target those politicians that are a good match based on what bills they have sponsored, who they have worked with in the past, their voting history, and their stances on political issues.
Legislators can then place their “issue map” on a public facing website along with a story map. The solution has already been used by politicians on the local and national level. Senator Sherrod Brown used GIS to better identify constituency trends with data such as the number of families by congressional district who claimed the American Opportunity Tax Credit in 2012.